Grieving 3 1/2 Year Old

Updated on March 30, 2008
J.R. asks from Palm Coast, FL
19 answers

We had to put our dog Teddie to sleep (on Valentine's Day of all days) and my daughter is still not doing well. She misses her so much. Does anyone know of any books that would help ease the pain?

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answers from Ocala on

I don't know of any books, but my sister just went through this with her 2 year old and she found a stuffed animal that closely resembled their dog and gave it to her daughter to take care of. All hers and her responsibility and she is responding very well. It may sound corny, but to a child it's the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Daytona Beach on

The local library's are great at this! Just go to the kids section and ask one of the librarian's for a book about grieving for pets.

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answers from Orlando on

I had seen this in an e-mail going around, maybe it will help your daughter. The book is: When a pet dies by Mr. Rogers.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Our dog of 15 years died 2 years ago. The girls, then 10 an 6, were heart broken. Baby had been with us forever. She had taught them both how to walk. She was their protector and their best friend. They cried for days.

Then one day in the mail we recieved a card from "Baby". In it was this wonderful story/poem Rainbow Bridge (

It was a personal note from our dog! The girls were so releived that she was okay. The card was simply the poem, her name and a paw print. What an amazing gift my family received that day. They kept that card on the tv for almost a year. then one day it just diappeared. I found it later under the youngest ones bed. She read it almost very night. She told me it kept her close to Baby.

Thank you Dr. Jordan and the wonderful staff at the vet clinic.

Perhaps your duaghter needs a card from her pet.


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answers from Gainesville on

Here are some wonderful books that are available to discuss the loss of a pet. I used some of these as a counselor in an elementary school and they were very effective.

Jasper’s Day
by Marjorie Parker (2002, Kids Can Press, 5.95)

Riley’s family is celebrating Jasper’s Day. Everything they do will be in honor of Jasper—sort of like a birthday. But it isn’t Jasper’s birthday. The old dog’s cancer has gotten really bad. Riley knows they can’t let him suffer any longer, but letting go will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Color. Grades K-5.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu
by Corinne Demas (2004, Little, Brown, 15.95/hardback)

This beautiful and touching story about a young girl who must say goodbye to her beloved, aged dog will touch anyone who has ever experienced a loss. Full color.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
by Judith Viorst (1971, Aladdin, 5.99)

A young boy tries to think of ten good things about his cat, Barney, who died. But he could only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father, he comes up with the tenth. Color. K-3.

Remembering Pets: A Book for Children Who Have Lost a Friend
by Gina Dalpra-Berman (2001, Robert Reed Publishers, 14.95/hardback)

A young child remembers the family pet and suggests common memories that readers might share. The loss of a pet is often a child's first experience with death and can leave a lasting impression. The purpose of this light-hearted rhyme is to open dialogue between parents and children while embracing happy memories of their beloved pets. Color. Grades K-3.

When a Pet Dies
by Fred Rogers (1998, Puffin, 5.99)

The popular TV host, Mister Rogers, helps children share their feelings of loss. He explains that the loss of a pet is a monumental part of a child’s life, while offering reassurance that grieving is a natural, healing thing to do. Color photos. Grades K-3.

Saying Goodbye to Your Pet: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief
by Marge Heegaard (2001, Fairview Press, 9.95)

This book offers a gentle, positive way to help children grieve the loss or death of a pet. Using the creative and interactive drawing activities in this book (essentially art therapy) you will be able to help alleviate some of the pain a child feels when an important part of his or her life is gone. Grades K-6.

When Your Pet Dies: A Healing Handbook for Kids
by Victoria Ryan (2002, Abbey Press, 7.95)

A child will probably never forget a beloved pet, or the day it died. And the sadness that follows is true grief.

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answers from Bloomington on

First off I am so sorry that had to put your dog to sleep. I know from personal experience how hard that is...I had my 15 year old cat put to sleep the day after Thanksgiving a year ago.

You can check with the library and I am sure that they have several children's books on dealing with the death of a pet.

I know that with my daughter, she was 5 when we lost the cat so a little older, I told her that he was in heaven and that even though she couldn't see him anymore she could talk to him anytime she wanted and that he could see and hear her.

We also went to Michaels and got one of the Pet Stepping Stone kits. We mixed his ashes into the cement mix and made a stepping stone memorial for him. We each made a paw print and a heart and we decorated them. They sit on my front porch which was a favorite spot of his.

Maybe your daughter could draw a picture for Teddie showing him how much she loves and misses him and telling him good-bye.

Good luck and once again, I am very sorry for your loss.


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answers from Jacksonville on

I am so sorry for the loss. I have been wondering how my son is going to handle that when our dog goes. The dog is only 7 now, so by that time, Jayden will be even older...anyway, I would call Barnes & Noble or even Borders (a cheaper version!) and ask them. They'd probably have a really good idea, and can tell you how much it will be, etc....good luck.

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answers from Orlando on

When our 10 year old husky Anna passed away after a Vet teeth cleaning gone awry,I showed my then 6,4,2 year old children the cartoon movie -- All Dogs Go to Heaven. They watched it, but I think because I wanted them to. They didn't truly realize Anna's death until months later -- we've had lots of coloring/pictures/conversations about Heaven & helium balloons from Publix sent up to Heaven since then.

I know there are some books, though, if you ask at the library. The titles escape me.

Sorry about your dog.

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answers from Panama City on


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answers from Tallahassee on

I've never seen any books about it, but reading from your other responders, those are great ideas.

I've written a book for my step son once, it was about his daddy being gone on deployment. we put lots of family pics in it and we mailed it to him and his mother so he could read it an know even though his daddy was gone, he loved him very much.

Making your own book is simple, finding old pictures of your precious dog with the children (write it, as if the dog is sending a message or if the narrator is just explaining your dog is in a better place now) I think will help. You could mention that your dog was very happy to have been with such a wonderful family and that when she gets to heaven she'll be waiting to see you all one day...reassure your daughter it was okay for your dog to go to heaven.

The loss of a pet is very saddening and I'm sorry that she is greiving. But greiving is how we cope! Best of luck and my heart goes out to your sweet loving daughter!

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answers from Jacksonville on

There is a book Called "In Case you Ever Wonder" it may help with you situation. I'm not sure of the author but it is a very cute book and really neat illustrations in it.

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answers from Panama City on

My daughter just lost a pony. We made a page in her scrapbook. It helped her move on and she has her own personal page she can look at to remember Bonnie.

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answers from Daytona Beach on

This is just a suggestion, but have her draw a picture and help her write a letter to the doggie and then tie it to a helium balloon that you get at the party store or grocery store and let it float to doggie heaven - note should say that you're glad he's up there playing with all the other puppies and kitten, and that you miss him, and whatever else she wants you to write for her. and let her help roll it up and tie it up into the string and walk it outside in an open space and say good bye balloon. Oh, let her pick out the balloon at the store. Now she'll be talking about that for a few days until something else in her life keeps her concentration.
Just a thought.
Good luck
T. in DeLeon Springs, FL

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answers from Jacksonville on

Purple love / by Susan Faith
Sarah is a child who embraces all that life has to offer. One day she discovers a family of bunnies and cries out in delight. When Sarah and her mother realize that the bunnies' mother has died, they have a loving and enlightening conversation about life and death.

The Jacksonville Public Library has a copy of this book at Brentwood but you can request it.

A special place for Charlee : a child's companion through pet loss / by Debby Morehead

There's no summary on the catalog record for this one, it's a nonfiction book. Three of the libraries have this one too.

When a pet dies / by Fred Rogers

Explores the feelings of frustration, sadness, and loneliness that a youngster may feel when a pet dies.

Also at the libraries.

Good luck and I hope this helps. I'm a library clerk so I did a search for you.

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answers from Boston on

I am so sorry to hear about your loss, especially for a young child to handle and experience it at such a young age. I know of a few books I hope this helps..
1. It's okay to cry:By Maria L. King
A collection of stories from people who have lost their beloved pets. This book helps the reader understand that her feelings are okay, and she is not alone.

2. Dog Heaven, By: Cynthia Rylant.
A picture book for younger children that tells of a cheerful place that dogs go to. In dog heaven, all the dogs are happy and playful.

3.For Every Dog an Angel, By Christine Davis
Although written for children, this book is a heartwarmer for all ages. A very comforting book for anybody who has ever loved and lost a dog.

Pets can bring us incredible joy and companionship throughout their lives. We can also experience incredible sadness and a sense of loss at their passing. In the past, it was more common to hear "it was just a pet" But Thankfully there are resources all around us that are more compationate to our (the pet lovers of today) feelings. Rainbow may also help! I will keep you in prayer!

C. safford
Moms helping moms towards a brighter future

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answers from Jacksonville on

Hi I have never done anything like this before but read your question and i had just received this email two days ago and thought it might help. There is a book mentioned in the letter as well. Good luck.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month.
> The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter,
> Meredith, was crying and talking about how much she
> missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter
> to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would
> recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so
> she dictated these words:
> Dear God,
> Will you please take care of my dog? She died
> yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very
> much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog
> even though she got sick.
> I hope you will play with her. She likes to
> play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture
> of her so when you see her. You will know that she
> is my dog. I really miss her.
> Love, Meredith.
> We put the letter in an envelope with a
> picture of Abbey and Meredith, and addressed it to
> God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then
> Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the
> envelope because she said it would take lots of
> stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That
> afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the
> post office. A few days later, she asked if God had
> gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He
> had.
> Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold
> paper on our front porch addressed, "To Meredith" in
> an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a
> book by Mr. Rogers called, "When a Pet Dies." Taped
> to the inside front cover was the letter we had
> written to God in its opened envelope. On the
> opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith
> and this note:
> Dear Meredith,
> Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
> Having the picture was a big help. I
> recognized Abbey right away.
> Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here
> with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey
> loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies
> in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your
> picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this
> little book for you to keep and have something to
> remember Abbey by.
> Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank
> your mother for helping you write it and sending it
> to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked
> her especially for you.
> I send my blessings every day and remember
> that I love you very much.
> By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever
> there is love.
> Love,
> God

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answers from Gainesville on

There is a poem out there called Rainbow Bridge which suggests in poetic form how some day you will meet up with your little four legged friend. I sent it to my daughter for Valentines day about six years ago when her dog suddenly got sick and died. It was just before Valentines Day. My daughter was a junior in college and missed him terribly when she would come home from school for a visit. We did get another one two years later. Same breed different coloring and she loves him just as much.

I googled "rainbow bridge poem" and there are lots of references to the poem.

We have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Not the "cheapest" breed in the world, but an adorable little dog who always looks like a puppy.

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answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Usually children that are really young that has had a dog pass away usually can be happy again with a new Dog in the home. Like a puppy!



answers from Jacksonville on

I have seen a lot of good advice, but from a dog obedience instructor point of view, a "replacement" puppy is not a good idea. If your child would like another pet, it should not be a replacement, nothing could replace the first pet. I did see someone suggest going to the pound/humane society. Yes, that is a very good idea. I agree with using the library to help you find a book to help. Most librarians are friendly people, especially children's librarians! Scrapbooking or making a photo album of the first pet, or getting a look alike stuffed pet may also help. Grieving is a healing process, and eveyone goes through it differently. Just being there for your child will help too. She is young and will bounce back after she gets over the hurt. Sorry about your loss, I know you are grieving too. Best of luck!

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